Unfortunately, Aikido is riddled with politics. O-Sensei would probably roll over in his grave if he could see it.
I personally hate politics and never got involved at all. I never even joined a federation.
The only thing that ever meant anything to me is actual ability. I've seen too many people with high rank and pathetic technique. One would think that these people would be ashamed to be ranked above their ability, but it seems that all they want is more rank.
Rank never meant anything to me. The only reason I was promoted to rokudan is because Saito-sensei periodically told me it was time to be moved up to the next level. He was my teacher and mentor; what was I supposed to say? No? But there are many who think that rank actually means something and gives them political power over others.
As described in my article entitled "Constructive and Counterproductive Use of Resistance in Aikido Training", after training under a good teacher for several years, it is possible to develop "Kokyu ryoku" (loosely translated as "abdominal breath power").
Most trainees do not get Kokyu, especially if they omit "Katai" (rigid) training and practice "Ki no Nagare" (flowing style) exclusively. If many of them are grabbed with strong power, they can't even move. On the contrary, in Iwama in the 70's, for a student who trained hard, getting Kokyu was almost a given.
For someone with good, clean technique and Kokyu Ryoku, he or she is able to perform a technique effortlessly against a strong person who is resisting with full power. This is real Aikido, and would make O-Sensei proud.
So, this is my definition of elegance in technique; "Effortless against full power".